I came across this opinion piece in the Evening Standard last week and it pulls no punches in criticising the role of a Local Authority planner.
I was less interested in why the antiques market is worth saving and more so on what powers planners should have to control development. The article's author calls the planner 'spineless' which I think is unfair as the problem lies within planning law. If the developer wants to change the market to high end retail units then he is fully within his rights. Plus, if the planner does refuse permission and the case ends up at appeal (as the author suggests he should do) the Local Authority will lose and the tax payer will foot the bill for wasted time and resources.
At a higher level the argument is with capitalism and the desire to increase surplus value from land. But what about the view from the street? Clearly the antiques market is prime real estate and could be turning over a greater profit for the owner and/or the shareholders if redeveloped. But what would be lost if the antiques market were to disappear? Character? Heritage? Tradition? Maybe all these things.
The article suggests that planning decisions should take greater account of the number of objections. I would prefer to see this the other way around. What about if policy took a greater account of local opinion in the first place? Alot of time and struggle could be saved later on when controversial applications like this arise.